ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Members of the APG community and distinguished guests joined Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD) in dedicating Bldg. E2800 as the Dr. Billy Richardson Joint CBRN Center of Excellence during a July 1 ceremony.
Richardson, who passed away in the spring, provided leadership and knowledge while working at the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy National Laboratories, the Department of Homeland Security, and other organizations. He assisted Congress in drafting the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act that initiated the National Program of Homeland Security and served as a cornerstone for national security strategy.
Deputy Joint Program Executive Officer for Chemical and Biological Defense Doug Bryce said that Richardson assisted with the effort to make APG the international hub of science, technology and engineering. He was instrumental in planning for Base Realignment and Closure 2005, including developing and executing Harford County's BRAC Action Plan, which served as a model for Maryland's BRAC Plan. His leadership with the Army Alliance, Inc. realized the addition of a number of new laboratories and buildings on APG North (Aberdeen) and APG South (Edgewood).
"The core mission and support areas within APG South include CBRN research, development, engineering, and program management. Having all of these capabilities co-located on one installation did not happen overnight or by chance and was due to the efforts of those like Dr. Richardson," Bryce said. "Billy positively added to the lives of so many, even those of you here who never met him reap the benefits of his dedicated service."
The keynote speaker, SAIC Vice President and Senior Business Strategist Homeland Protection and Preparedness Mike Parker said Richardson was instrumental in establishing the first magnet school in Harford County, Aberdeen High School's Science and Mathematics Academy (SMA) in 2003. Today the school receives hundreds of applications each year from Harford County students.
"Without Dr. Richardson, that extremely successful academy would not exist," he said. "It is a premier STEM-related facility for our community."
In 2008, a Creative Vision Award Scholarship was established in Richardson's honor and continues today. Currently, many APG professionals serve on the SMA Advisory Board and mentor students.
Parker added that Richardson was always determined and focused on the outcome.
"It was always about the high quality product and outcome, delivered early and of high value, he had a laser focus on this," he said. "He left us a legacy and example, that we all stand up and do more."
Bryce and Parker unveiled the plaque dedicated to Richardson, which is now displayed in the entrance of Bldg. E2800. The ceremony included a welcome by Capt. Charles O'Connor, the singing of the national anthem by Darrell McCarthy, and the invocation by Robert Carter, JPEO-CBD.
After the dedication JPEO-CBD's Chief of Infrastructure, Community Relations and Security, Timothy McNamara, said that Richardson was a visionary who had the ability to break down incredibly complex ideas into simple terms and gather the support of others.
"Billy didn't have much Family, so his life revolved around doing good for others," he said.
McNamara said the addition of SMA was a defining moment for Harford County. Before SMA, students would have to travel to schools in other counties to receive comparable education.
"He [Richardson] said someone should be able to live in Harford County, go to school in Harford County, and work in Harford County," McNamara said. "To be able to do the last piece you have to do the education piece. You can't wait until you go to college to do in-depth science and math classes. He wasn't the kind of guy that took no very easily. He would push for what he believed in."
McNamara said that he was proud of the team that made the dedication successful.
"Today we honored a great American," he said. "This facility is a tribute to a really great guy."
After his retirement, Dr. Billy Richardson served as an advocate for APG at the Petagon and on Capitol Hill. He was elected chairman of the NBC Industry Group, an association of about 130 companies with interests in nuclear, biological and chemical defense and served as a member of the board of trustees of the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute.